The death of four U.S. soldiers in Niger opened a window for a nationwide discussion about the United States militarization of the African continent. During the Obama administration, the U.S. military footprint on the African continent increased by nearly 2,000 percent. The Africa Command (AFRICOM) launched officially by George W. Bush on October 1, 2008 was wholeheartedly adopted by President Barack Obama and accelerated exponentially. The apogee of the militarization of the African continent was the NATO bombing of Libya led by AFRICOM, which resulted in the overthrow of the Libyan government and the assassination of its leader Muammar Gaddafi. Then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, infamously said of Gaddafi while laughing "We came, we saw and he died." It was the U.S. & NATO overthrow of the Libyan government that triggered the destabilization of the Sahel region and the flooding of weapons to myriad groups in the region.
Although, the focus on the U.S. presence in Africa is recent, the United States has long been engaged in Africa via covert action and clandestine support for authoritarian and repressive regimes notorious for using their security forces to crush dissent. The U.S. militarization of the African continent is a mirror image of its militarization of Black communities in the United States through laws such as the 1033 program which provides excess military equipment to local police departments.
The massive militarization of the African continent has occurred under the radar for the casual observer. Even though the United States has over 800 military bases in some 70 countries throughout the globe, Africa is often left out of the conversation by peace, antiwar and progressive activists for a host of reasons.
The forum will explore the following:
- How U.S.-sponsored counter-terrorism strategies have been contributing to deaths and disappearances of hundreds of people across the continent;
- the increased militarization of the African continent and its implications for resistance efforts by local communities and social justice activists in Africa;
- The connection between the militarization of the African continent and Black communities in the United States;
- Reasons why the peace, anti-war and progressive groups have left Africa out of the discussion when challenging U.S. global military footprint;
- Concrete actions that social justice advocates can take to push back on the militarization of the African continent
Samar al-Bulushi - Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Irvine. She works on security states, transnational governance and critical approaches to human rights.
Glen Ford - Executive Editor of the Black Agenda Report and co-founder of America’s Black Forum.
Milton Allimadi - Editor in chief of the Black Star News and author of "The Hearts of Darkness: How White Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa"
Zachariah Mampilly - Director of Africana Studies and an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Vassar College.
Friends of the Congo, Black Star News, Africa Is A Country, Black Alliance For Peace, Pan-African Community Action (PACA)
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